Providing urgent clean-up support
In Russia in 1994, corrosion resulted in about 300 million litres of oil pouring from a pipeline into rivers and polluting an area bigger than a typical English village. In 2010, more than 750 million litres of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico and, in just a few weeks, destroyed an ecosystem established over decades. Spills on land are not necessarily easier to clean up than ocean spills, and spills in both environments can instantly devastate animal and human life.
RSK was hired by a client in Russia to provide urgent support to clean up a spill at a warehouse storing oil. It is understood that a forklift veered too close to dozens of drums balanced on pallets and crashed, thereby leading to the flooding of the warehouse and the entire site with about 900,000 litres of a lubricant. The client described the scene as catastrophic and asked for urgent support for cleaning up the warehouse and the immediate area.
The warehouse owner organised a clean-up team to empty the warehouse, salvage the oil in undamaged containers and remove the spilt material. RSK supervised the clean-up activities, assessed the potential migration pathways and outlined remedial strategies to ensure that the risks to humans and the environment were managed.
In addition to the warehouse clean-up, the remediation assessed the site boundary, potential pathways and receptors. As expected, the oil had migrated along nearby 1-m deep, 2-m wide drainage ditches. The contamination was severe and widespread; the RSK team identified traces of contamination up to 3 km from ‘ground zero’. Flood booms and absorbent pads were installed in the ditches to soak up oil and skimmer pumps removed as much oil as possible to a central pool from where it was tankered off-site. RSK directed the installation of holding tanks at various drainage intersections to stem the contamination, identified additional monitoring points and stressed the urgency of balancing several health, safety, security and environmental issues that the contractor subsequently addressed. The client praised RSK’s focus and urgency in completing its work.